Detection of Trace Explosives in the Wastewater System: Applications for Forensic Intelligence
There is significant potential for measuring trace levels of explosives in the wastewater system to offer a viable form of forensic intelligence to inform on-going criminal and counter terrorism investigations to identify areas where IEDs are being manufactured. This project aims to develop robust collection, extraction and quantification methodologies for the detection of trace peroxide explosives in wastewater at different locations along the sewerage network, from homes to the wastewater treatment plant and back into the river. Since the precursor chemicals used to manufacture ‘home-made bombs’ are commonly available, there is more forensic significance to the detection of the final explosives themselves. Different approaches to collecting wastewater samples from wastewater pumping stations and manholes as well as collecting influent and effluent from wastewater treatment plants will be explored, including the development of an explosives specific device for use in situ. Data collected regarding detection levels of explosives throughout the wastewater system can be used to create a hot-spot map using ArcGIS software. The visual assessment and interpretation of such an intelligence tool is to be analysed so that any misinterpretation issues are identified. This holistic approach can contribute towards prevention and disruption measures by directing surveillance resources to target areas of particular interest. Whilst in forensic science, there is a general focus on the detection of a crime after the event, identifying the ‘who’, ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘how’, this research highlights the potential for forensic evidence from environmental, and in particular, wastewater surveillance to also have a part to play in the prevention of crimes.
Conference Oral Presentation: S. Gamble, R. Morgan, L. Campos, Forensic Detection of Explosives throughout the Wastewater System: Implications for Environmental Surveillance, DSTL Explosives Detection Group Seminar, Fort Halstead, UK, 4th April 2014.
Conference Poster Presentation: S. Gamble, R. Morgan, Spatial and Temporal Detection of Trace Explosives throughout the Wastewater Treatment Process, Crime Time: Advances in Temporal Forensic Investigations, Huddersfield, UK, 4th-5th November 2013.
Conference Poster Presentation: S. Gamble, R. Morgan, Detection of Trace Explosives throughout the Wastewater Treatment Process, Thames Estuary Partnership Summer Networking, UCL, London 4th July 2013.
Conference Poster Presentation: S. Gamble, V. Hilborne, Analysis of Matrix Effects on Illicit Stimulant Drug Detection using Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry, London Toxicology Group, London 14th December 2012. Nominated for the John Jackson prize.